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Restaurants & Bars

Tora Bora House - Albuquerque

Erich | Dec 3, 200204:15 PM     2

I work in SF but live in Albuquerque; as I've said before, both towns have great restaurants. I was stuck in ABQ after a doctor appointment, so I thought I'd see what our relatively new Afghan place is like for lunch.

The Tora Bora House (which opened late last fall - talk about some awful luck with the timing!) is located at 6219 Montgomery Boulevard NE (505-830-6991) on the NE side of the intersection with San Pedro (in the same strip mall as Chez Axel, formerly Emilie's). They are open 11-2 for lunch Tu - Sun, and regular dinner hours Tu - Sun. The restaurant's windows are covered in fabric, giving the place a mysteriously dark, tentlike feel; there are tables and booths available and candles on all tables.

The lunch menu has about 5 appetizer choices, about 7 lunchtime entrees (incl. kefteh, various kabobs, veggie stuff, pilaus, and some specialty stuff), drinks and desserts. The place was busy but not packed when I entered at about 12:20, and I was able to place my order within a couple of minutes.

My hot black tea with cardomom ($1.75) arrived right away, along with the water I'd requested. The waitress also brought a some naan (bread that she assured me was only toasted for the lunch crowd - ?) along with fresh homemade yogurt and a jalepeno sauce for dipping. She explained the many shaker jars of spices on the table (crushed grape seed - adds a bitter but fruity taste, ground green and red chile, and ground apple seeds), and left.

I ate my naan and read my book and ate naan for a while. The waitress refilled my black tea from a pitcher she brought around the room (that's something you don't see very often!), and then brought me a salad (dressed with lemon - but the restaurant has "American" salad dressings for patrons who'd rather have them).

A little while after I finished my salad, the waitress brought my entree: mantu, a large plate full of ravioli-like dumplings filled with ground beef and spiced onion swimming in a spiced lentils and sauce and more of the homemade yogurt ($7.95). She also brought a complimentary appetizer sent out by the owner when he heard that I'd chosen to eat with them rather than head up to Santa Fe for lunch (SF Chowhounds - mention where you're from!): bolaanie kachaalbo, a pair of flat, fried triangular turnovers filled with herbed potatoes and onions (reminded me of pierogies, but better!).

It was all wonderful. The food carried a delightful mix of flavors that somehow balanced a traditional Middle Eastern/E. Med. feel with that of Indian cooking. It was also pretty darn cheap at under $10 (incl. tax but not tip). It was a nice, relaxing lunch that wound up taking over an hour to finish - even though I was by myself (and thus not really lingering). The owner gives every customer a survey to make sure that folks are satisfied (they give you a coupon for a free dessert or appetizer if you fill it out).

I'll be back.

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